Friday, 24 June 2022

Another way of mashing Berliner Weisse in 1845

Here's the method recommended Gumbinner. It's main point of difference is the absence of a decoction. Something Gumbinner seemed to have a particular aversion to.

He was keen that Berlin brewers adapted his method, which he claimed produced a better and more stable beer, so they could see off the threat of Bavarian beer, i.e. Lager. He can't have had much success, as Berlin brewers were still decocting their Berliner Weiss 150 years later.

Mash in 2,887.5 kg wheat malt and 412.5 kg barley malt with 2,404.5 litres of water at 45º to 50º C.

While the water and malt were being mixed, water was brought to the boil in the kettle. This was slowly mixed into the grains in the mash tun, every five minutes adding more water. The temperature was taken regularly to see if the mixture had reached 65º to 67.5º C, which should occur when almost all the water from the kettle. In total, 3,206 litres of boiling water.

In winter, the mash was left to stand for 30 minutes, covered. In summer, 60 minutes, uncovered.

The mash tun was tapped and, when the wort began to run clear, it was pumped to the kettle. When the kettle was half full, between 122 gm and 176 gm of hops per 55 kg of malt were added. By the time it came to the boil, the kettle was full.

The wort was boiled for 20 to 30 minutes, then was filtered through a hop basket into the cooler.

More water (3,206 litres) was brought to the boil and slowly mixed with the grains. When all the boiling water had been added, the mash should be at 63.75º to 65º C. It was stood for 30 minutes in summer, 60 in winter.

It was drawn off and boiled in the same way as the first wort, that is, for 20 to 30 minutes. After which it went to the cooler. 

Recommended was to have two coolers allowing both worts to be cooled at the same time and blended together when the yeast was pitched. Though in winter, you could just throw the second wort into the cooler with the first wort.

There was a third charge of cold water, stood for 30 to 60 minutes, for Kovent.
"Handbuch der praktischen Bierbrauerei" by Dr. Julius Ludwig Gumbinner, 1845, pages 234 - 237.

All this and much more, will be in my book "Weisse!", which should be available soon. I just need to finish writing it.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Buy my books!

A reader pointed out that some of the links to my many, many books were broken. The bastards at Lulu, sorry, the very nice people at Lulu, had changed the URLs of the pages. Don't remember them telling me that. Maybe I missed it.

I've no idea how long the links were broken. Or how many sales I've lost. Probably not that many, as no-one mentioned it until now.

I've fixed the links now. So order away. Buy my books!

Especially this classic. I think total sales are now almost in double figures after a recent surge ( one sale).


Afternoon drinking

I've noticed changes in my pub-going habits over the years. It's not just the frequency of visits. It's also their timing.

I rarely go for evening sessions any more. Only when on holiday, really. Because I far prefer afternoons. For a variety of reasons. Pubs are less crowded, transport is easier and can gave a few hours relaxing at home before heading off to bed.

It all really started when I moved to Amsterdam. Me and my mates got into a weekend groove. Every Saturday and Sunday we'd hit Rick's Café in the centre of town for their happy hour. Which was 16:00 to 18:00. Half price De Koninck and a few games of pool. Even with a couple of beers in Café Belgique afterwards would still see me home by 20:00.

When the kids came along, I'd give Dolores a little relief by dragging them down the pub in the afternoon. How many happy hours I've spent chasing Andrew down Nieuwe Dijk after he'd made a dash for freedom from Café Belgique. Now I have to drag him out of the pub. "Can I have another beer, dad?" is his catchphrase.

During one of my periods of unemployment, I filled the days working on my European Pub Guide. Part of the project was documenting areas outside the city centre. Which entailed afternoon expeditions with anti-American Mike. Usually kicking off between 13:00 and 16:00, depending on when the pubs opened.

When I'm in the UK, one of my great pleasures is to sit in a pub in the early afternoon, sipping a pint while reading a newspaper. Wrapped in my own little cocoon of silence. The emptier the pub, the better. I'm happy if it's just me and the bar staff. I hate crowds of people. Often, I just hate people. They can be so annoying.

I'm down to one weekly pub excursion: Saturday afternoon in Butcher's Tears. And I'm always back in time for my tea.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1913 Boddington BB

Now this is where things start to get dead confusing. If you remember, a decade or so earlier BB was the name of Boddington’s Strong Ale. Now it’s being used for a standard-strength Mild. It’s all a bit strange.

In terms of strength, it’s exactly halfway between the X and XX of 1901. But that still doesn’t explain the designation BB. I suppose B and BB used together make some sort of sense. But why no BBB, but instead keeping XXX. I struggle to see any logic.

The recipe is similar, but not identical, to that of B. Here there’s a smaller percentage of flaked maize and a greater one of the sugar. There’s also no caramel.

Of course, there are loads of different hops. In the copper: English from the 1909, 1911, and 1912 harvests; Californian from 1911. As dry hops: English from the 1911 and 1912 seasons; Californian from 1911.

1913 Boddington BB
pale malt 8.25 lb 80.49%
flaked maize 1.00 lb 9.76%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.00 lb 9.76%
Cluster 135 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.50 oz
Cluster dry hops 0.125 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1048
FG 1016
ABV 4.23
Apparent attenuation 66.67%
IBU 22
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 135 minutes
pitching temp 61.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)


Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Cooling and fermenting Berliner Weisse in 1845

I've started the week a fun way - reading my way through an old German brewing text. It's so much fun. Really.

We've bot past the mashing section and are now looking at the remainder of the process. This time there are some temperatures given. Even though the brewery in question didn't seem to believe in them, relying instead on the ever-so-reliable finger method.

After standing, the wort began to be drawn off. At first the tap was only opened a little and the wort returned to the top of the filter tub until it began to run clear. The tap was then opened wide and the wort run off into the grant and from there pumped to the cooler. When the wort started to become cloudy again the tap was closed.

Meanwhile the kettle had been refilled with water and brought to the boil. This was now poured over the grain bed in the filter tun. This was left to stand without being touched for around 30 minutes.

The kettle had meanwhile been refilled and brought to the boil again. The boiling water was added to the filter tub and left to stand for another 30 minutes.

The first wort was now returned from the cooler to the cleaned mash tun and the second wort transferred to the cooler.

When the first wort reached a temperature of 27.5º to 30º C, some of it was drawn off and mixed with yeast. The yeast mostly came from a previous brew, but twice in the week yeast shipped from Cottbus was used.

After about an hour this wort started to ferment and it was mixed with the first wort in the mash tun, which was now about 22.5º C.

When fermentation of the first wort had kicked off, after 6 to 8 hours, the second wort was added. This new mix started to ferment after around an hour. It was then filled into barrels and immediately shipped out to publicans. 

What little fermenting wort remained was transferred to barrels in the fermentation cellar. Fermentation was completed in 18 to 20 hours.

A third addition of cold water was poured over the grain bed and left to stand for between 30 and 60 minutes. This was drawn off, pitched with yeast and sold to the poorer classes as Koventbier. Fermentation was completed in their home. To make it more palatable, it was often mixed with some strong Weisse before bottling.
"Handbuch der praktischen Bierbrauerei" by Dr. Julius Ludwig Gumbinner, 1845, pages 225 - 230.

Once again, the wort was pitched in the mash tun. Note that the majority of even the primary fermentation was performed by publicans. Only a small amount was fermented in the brewery itself.

Monday, 20 June 2022


When I was at university I went to the pub most days. Sometimes twice, afternoon and evening sessions. The first in the student union bar, the second in the Cardigan Arms.

In my first few years in the real world, it was much the same. Friday lunch, Friday evening, Saturday evening, Sunday lunch. Those were obligatory. There were usually a couple of weekday evenings, too. Friday evening was the highlight of the week, kicking off straight after work. A pub crawl around a part of Leeds where the Tetley's was good: North Street, Cross Green or Hunslet. I almost forgot the club. Burley Road Liberal Club. We'd be there playing snooker a couple of nights a week.

Down in London to program, my pub visits weren't much reduced. A couple of lunchtimes and a few post-work evenings with colleagues for a start. Then a couple of evenings with other friends. It could easily average out to more than one session per day.

This isn't a confession of rampant alcoholism. Many sessions were only a pint or two.

Now I think of it, it was in New York that I started to lose the pub habit. I never drank at lunchtime and rarely went for beers after work with colleagues. The only exception being Friday night darts at Manhattan Brewing. Otherwise, it was just the occasional visit of a local Staten Island bar. As they were pretty crap, I didn't bother often.

Though in Rotterdam, I usually called in Boezembrug on the way back from work. Just for a bottle or two (no sane person drank the draught beer) and a game of pinball. And try not to get bothered by the annoying anarchist hippy. 

Swindon was surprisingly good for pubs. And beer. Which encouraged me out quite often. Though less than in my single days. Drinks sometimes on a Friday lunchtime with colleagues. The odd time after work. Every now and again the odd pint in the pubs on our estate. Weekend evenings in the Old Town drinking Morrels and Wadworth. Or down the railway Village for Archers.

Settling in Amsterdam, pubs might be on the cards a couple of times a week.At least the first time around.

Melbourne revived the pub man in me. I dropped by the Canada most days on the walk home from work. Just to cool down. With a schooner of Cooper's Stout. Plenty of visits later in the evening with the local pubs with draught Coopers.

Definitively back in Amsterdam, pubs played prominent role again. At least three or four sessions a week.Saturday and Sunday Happy Hour in Rick's Café. A few jars in Café.Belgique once or twice a week.

After the kids came along, I'd take them to the pub on weekend afternoons. Café Belgique if I could be arsed to go into town. Bedier if I couldn't. Evening sessions were pretty much a thing of the past.

When the kids became teenagers, the afternoon sessions dried up. What was left? The odd evening with mates.

Now I'm down to once a week. Saturday afternoon with Andrew and the lads down Butcher's Tears. And that's it, pretty much.

Why do I visit pubs so much less? Part of it is just being at a different stage of my life. But money has a lot to do with it, too. A couple of drinks each for me and Dolores can top 30 euros. I can't afford to do that six or seven times a week.

When I started drinking, it was almost exclusively in pubs.This may seem strange to those not quite as ancient as me, but beer used to be cheaper in pubs than in shops. I almost never drank at home just for that reason. Plus bottled beer was way inferior to a good pint of cask.

The latter consideration might also play into Dutch pubs being less attractive. In the UK, cask will tempt me into a pub. While here pubs don't sell anything better than the Abt I drink at home.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Mashing Berliner Weisse in 1845

We're back with Berliner Weisse again. With yet another description of the brewing process.

 It's quite different from another description I have from just a couple of years earlier. Why is that? Because every brewery seemed to have their own process. This is just a description of one of them.

It's quite a complicated mashing scheme with three decoctions.All of the thick mash.

Seven parts wheat malt to one part barley malt was used. The malt having been dried on an English style malt kiln using indirect heat at a low temperature to keep the colour as pale as possible. The brewery whose process was being described kept their malt for at least a year before brewing with it.

The kettle was filled with water, once it had been brought to the boil, it was transferred to the mash tun. Cold water was added until the mixture was lukewarm. The brewer judged when the correct temperature had been reached with his finger.

The grain was added to the mash tun and mixed with the water for around 30 minutes until it had a smooth, even consistency.

The kettle was refilled while the mash was being stirred and when it had boiled was gradually added to the mash tub. The mixture was stirred with mash paddles until the consistency was even.

The mash was left to rest for 30 to 45 minutes while another lot of water came to the boil in the kettle. This was gradually mixed into the mash, except for around 20%, which was left in the kettle.

Between 122 gm and 176 gm of hops per 55 kg of malt were added to the water left in the kettle and boiled for around 10 minutes.

Some of the mash was transferred to the kettle and brought to the boil. When it started to boil, more mash was added. This was boiled for around 10 minutes.

The boiled mash and hops was mixed back into the main mash in the mash tun. After a good mix, some mash was transferred back to the kettle and brought to a boil again.

This second decoction was returned to the mash tun and mixed in. After which, some more mash was moved to the kettle and boiled.

After boiling it was transferred to the filter tub at the same time as the main mash and the two were mixed. Meaning mashing out happened here and not in the mash tun.
"Handbuch der praktischen Bierbrauerei" by Dr. Julius Ludwig Gumbinner, 1845, pages 217 - 225.

Once again, mash out was in the filter tub rather than the mash tun.


Saturday, 18 June 2022

Let's Brew - 1913 Boddington B

A decade or so later, Boddington was still brewing a range of Mild Ales. It’s just that they had changed the names of most of them.

Weakest of the set was B. What that might stand for, I’ve no idea. I do know that it’s a pretty weak beer. With an OG about the same as the Table Ale of 10 years previously. And looking more like a post-WW I Mild rather than a pre-WW I one.

The big change in the grist is the arrival of adjuncts, in the form of flaked maize. Other than that, the recipe is much the same, consisting of just base malt and sugar. That base malt being a combination of English and foreign. Which was pretty standard for the period.

It wouldn’t be Boddington if there weren’t loads of different hops. The copper hops were English from the 1909, 1911 and 1912 harvests and Poperinge from 1911. And as dry hops, English from 1911 and 1912, plus Californian from 1911.

1913 Boddington B
pale malt 6.75 lb 81.76%
flaked maize 1.00 lb 12.11%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.50 lb 6.06%
caramel 2000 SRM 0.006 lb 0.07%
Strisselspalt 120 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.25 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1037
FG 1010
ABV 3.57
Apparent attenuation 72.97%
IBU 13
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 161º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 62.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Friday, 17 June 2022

The Whitbread Gravity Book

What a wonderful document it is. Well, pair of documents, as there are two volumes. The most valuable references for anyone wanting to take a close look at British beer in the 20th century. I don't know what I would have done without it.

Across thousands of entries, it records the vital statistics of  the beers of Whitbread's rivals. OG, FG, price, colour. Sometimes even short descriptions of flavour, condition and clarity. There's an emphasis on the London area, which was Whitbread's main stomping ground. But plenty of beers from all parts of the UK.

Between them, the two volumes cover a span of almost 50 years: 1922 to 1968. Starting with the fallout of WW I and ending in the keg era, there were a lot of changes over those years. All of which you can see reflected in the Gravity Book's pages. For example, laying bare what bad value keg beer was in comparison to cask.

I've lent heavily on the Gravity Book for a couple of my works: Austerity! and Blitzkrieg!. One, Draught!, is totally dependent on it. 

While writing the last-named book, I got a better idea of why Porter was in terminal decline between the wars. It was quite often in poor shape, described as "sour" or "going off". Sounds like cask beer that's been on for too long. Poor sales meaning beer gets too old, leading to even fewer sales. A vicious cycle, such as happened with Mild a few decades later.

When it becomes particularly useful is in relation to breweries whose records have been lost. Allowing us our only glimpse at what their beers were like.

I've transcribed every entry into a spreadsheet. Except for a couple of pages where my photos are too blurred to read. It took a lot of hours. Worth it, totally. Not sure I'd want to do it again.

a Barclay Perkins page from volume 2

For the moment, the Gravity Book volumes are in a safe place: London Metropolitan Archives. But you have to physically go there to access them. A pretty big limitation.

How could I forget my book Numbers!. Which has hundreds of analyses taken from the Whitbread Gravity Book. As well as other sources.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

More Yorkshire puds

It wasn’t just fry-ups and pies in Folkestone. I’m classier than that. Much classier.

The breakfast Yorkshire puddings were a bit of a let-down. My hopes had been so high. Would the next lot be better? You’ll find out later. As that was our last meal. I’m trying to keep some sort of chronology going here.

I’m a very undemanding travelling companion. As long as I’m getting regularly served with beer, I’m happy. I’d only made one request of Mikey: "I'd like a curry." OK, was his reply.

Not remembering having seen a curry house while wandering around that I could recall, I resorted to the internet. A Nepalese place called Annapurna caught my eye. Fairly cheap and interesting looking food. Plus it was just off the main drag, on the way to the East Kent Arms.

We rolled on down there around 6 PM. Pretty early. Early enough for there to be plenty of free tables. Obviously, we kicked off with some beer. Some Nepalese brand, I think. Probably brewed in Bedford or Bury St. Edmonds.

Oddly, the starters and main courses are around the same price. Making my decision to go with two starters an expensive one. They were very nice. One was ribs. The other some meat dish. I really can’t remember. Except that it was pretty good. Followed up by a meat curry with rice. Also pretty good, despite me not being to recall which type of meat it was.

Sunday’s meal was the first one entered in our itinerary. A roast dinner at the Royal Cheriton, a pub close to where we ate breakfast. As Mikey had already been drinking, we took a taxi.

It’s a pretty decent pub, with a couple of cask beers. Nothing out of the ordinary, just straightforward Bitters. As long as it’s in decent condition, I don’t really care what it  is. (Unless it’s Doom Bar.)

Unsurprisingly, it was pretty busy. Which is why Mikey had booked us a table. Their Sunday roasts are very popular. No wonder: they’re very good value for money. For a few pence shy of nine quid, you a full plate of food. Lots of veg and a decent amount of meat. Which was lamb. Hence the mint sauce.

Since I’ve roast cooked once most Sundays for the last 10 years or so, I’m quite critical when I buy one in a pun. Especially when it comes to Yorkshire puddings. These were how I like them: thick and meaty, while crisp on the outside. Much better the breakfast version at the Toby Inn. Well worth the money.

And that’s the end of our culinary adventures in Kent. All of the most English types of food: fried breakfast, pies, curry and roast dinner. I don’t think I missed anything. Not bad in just four nights.

Annapurna Nepalese Restaurant
15 Cheriton Place,
CT20 2AY

The Royal Cheriton
339 Cheriton Rd,
CT19 4BP.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1902 Boddington TA

This one almost slipped through the cracks. A low-gravity Table Ale. A weaker Mild Ale, really.

I wonder what form Table Ale was sold in? It could have been an exclusively bottled beer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear in the only Boddington price list I have. It does seem odd calling this a watery Mild, when it’s stronger than most post-WW II versions. But, at a time, when average OG was over 1050º, 1038º was watery. Outside London, there were Mild Ales of a similar strength, especially out in the sticks.

The malt was 10 quarters of English and 2.5 quarters of Californian. A pretty typical mix for the period. By this time, 100% English malt was unusual.

No. 3 invert is just a guess. Pretty sure it’s some sort of invert as it was manufactured by Garton. And No. 3 because it only turns up in Boddington Mild Ales. The Pale Ales have a different type.

A whole of different harvests of hops were used. English from 1898, 1899, 1900 and 1901, Californian from 1900.

1902 Boddington TA
pale malt 7.50 lb 90.91%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 9.09%
Cluster 120 mins 0.25 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1038
FG 1006
ABV 4.23
Apparent attenuation 84.21%
IBU 24
Mash at 155º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 110 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Breakfast today

Brunch, really, as I ate it well after noon. 

This is what it looked like, just after I started tucking in.

Before anyone starts slagging my breakfast off, the potatoes are a leftover from yesterday's tea. No toast, as our toaster died a couple of days ago. You can see how Dutch I've become: I'm drinking milk with it. Can't get more Dutch than that.

I don't make a habit of eating meals like this. Just once every few weeks. Except when I'm on holiday.

That's all for today. Nothing about beer. OK, then. I'll probably drink a St. Bernardus Abt later. Not had one in a while. It's been mostly Black Eagle No. 1 Barley Wine this week.

Monday, 13 June 2022


It wasn’t all beer and breakfasts in Folkestone. There were pies, too.

I so like a good pie. Minced beef and onion, or meat and potato, if they have it, are my preferences. Steak and kidney is OK. As is chicken and mushroom. And cheese and onion. Come to think of it, I like all pies.

Folkestone is lucky enough to have a pretty good chippie in the town centre. Pausing only for a quick drink in my room after checking into our hotel, we set off on the not very long walk to Papa's Fish Restaurant. A proper chippie. Not a kebab shop pretending to be one.

Mikey, being a tight git, doesn’t want to pay the extra to eat in the restaurant at the back.

“I can’t eat a pie standing up. I’m old.”

“They’ve a couple of tables at the front. We can eat there. They give you plastic cutlery.”

 What a classy experience it was. We both went for pies. Mince beef and onion, obviously, for me. With mushy peas. Not sure what sort of pie Mikey chose. I think the same as me. Dead good chips, chunky and brown. Yummy soaked in vinegar. And I mean soaked. The pie was on the dry side. A dousing in mushy peas sorted that out.

You can’t really linger at a tiny table in the shop. Nosh noshed down, it was pub time.

“East Kent Arms?”

“Can do, Mikey. But what about one in Chambers? It is on the way.”


Chambers is a cask beer sort of place. I usually manage to strongarm Mikey into a couple of visits per trip.

We were sitting in Spoons the next day, wondering what we wanted for our tea. I didn’t really fancy anything on the menu.

“What about the chippie?”

“That could work, Ron.”

And so we walked back up the hill to Papa’s. I persuaded Mikey to splash out and have a proper sit down. In the restaurant. He’d only stump up for a pie, though.

“It’s too much for the fish, man.”

Fair enough. Pie was my intention, anyway. Though it’s licensed, we forego drinks. “Too expensive” Mikey reckons. Nothing I particularly want to drink. I’m happy to give it a miss.

 The chips were a tad paler than the day before. Still with a decent enough colour. The pie exactly like yesterday: in need of mushy peas or gravy. Despite Mikey insisting that the pies weren’t microwaved, as they had been the day before.

Where did we go after that? Harveys, I think. I was too full of pie and peas to care by then.

Papa's Fish Restaurant and Takeaway
110 Sandgate Rd,
CT20 2BW.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

More bacon

Sunday, our planned breakfast location was Dawn’s Delight. We duly drove up outside, only to find it very closed. They only open six days a week.

Where were we going to have breakfast?

“What about that place we just drove past?” I asked.

“The Beano? It wasn’t very good last time I was there. Or it was expensive? There was some reason I wasn’t impressed.”

“Let’s at least have a look.”

There were quite a few diners. A good sign. We decided to give it a whirl.

None of the set options worked for me. But extras were just a quid. I went for a pretty basic option – bacon, egg and mushrooms – and added on black pudding, tomatoes and a second egg (I took the photo before the extra egg arrived). Pretty much exactly what I wanted. And under a tenner.

The eggs were slightly odd-looking again. But the yolks were nice and runny. Bit stingy with the tomato, but otherwise pretty good. Where did Mikey get his negative opinion from? OK, not quite as good as the Black Bull. Still, more than decent. Mikey was equally pleased with his choice. Weird as it was. No black pudding, for fuck’s sake.

There’s a slight Beano (the comic) theme going on. Not sure where that comes from, as the owners are Turkish. (As they are at the Black Bull, too.) They probably just inherited the name from the previous owners.

My last breakfast didn’t last long. I was quite hungry. A night on the lash leads to an aching need for a fried breakfast the nest morning. At least with me.

That hole filled, it was time to drop the car back at the hotel and walk to Spoons. It was already 10:30, after all. A raging thirst. That’s another result of a night on the lash. With me.

Heading for a train around 9 PM, we didn’t have a huge amount of time for breakfast on the last day. I’d ordered, well Mikey had ordered for me, a bacon baguette. I didn’t eat it immediately, as we had to head to the tunnel.

Where we hung around for ages, first getting our passports controlled, then waiting for a train. Eurotunnel must have been having some problems: we were loaded onto a carriage intended for lorries.

Lukewarm, at best. But still delicious. You can’t beat a bacon buttie.

Dawn's Delight
22 Cheriton High St,
CT19 4ET.

The Beano Cafe
Cheriton Rd,
CT19 4DX.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Let's Brew - 1901 Boddington BB

Some brew house names I’ve never managed to work out. BB is a fairly common designation. It usually stands for Bitter Beer. Which, obviously, it doesn’t in this case, this being a Strong Ale. Your guess is as good as mine. I’m equally clueless about its replacement, the equally enigmatic CC.

At least its properly strong, weighing in at a similar gravity to a London KKK. It would be great to know if it was aged. My guess would be yes. Probably a few months in trade casks.

BB isn’t a complicated beer. Its grist is mostly pale malt. In the mash tun, 100% pale malt, as the black malt was added to the copper along with the sugar. There’s really nothing more to say. There’s not enough black malt to make the finished beer properly dark. Leaving it in the no man’s land between pale and dark.

Only four types of hops this time, three English and one Californian. None with a harvest date.

1901 Boddington BB
pale malt 17.25 lb 91.80%
black malt 0.04 lb 0.21%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.50 lb 7.98%
Cluster 165 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 2.00 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 2.00 oz
Fuggles dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1086
FG 1030
ABV 7.41
Apparent attenuation 65.12%
IBU 50
SRM 11
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 165 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)


Friday, 10 June 2022

The triumph of Lager

I came across some dead handy information about the spread of Lager to North Germany. I had thought that it only really kicked off in the second half of the 19th century. It seems I was out by several decades.

By 1845, Lager (in the quotes called "Bavarian beer") was already popular in Berlin and breweries had been set up to produce it in the Prussian capital.

"It is absolutely and undeniably certain that the brewing of beer is a chemical process of such robustness that one can always produce the same product with the same material. This truth and the importance of the established scientific rules are well known in England and Bavaria, and all breweries of some importance are subject to them. On the other hand, in Prussia, where distilling has risen so completely on the basis of chemistry, brewing has still been carried on in a sorry and careless manner. This alone is the reason why we have not, so far, despite all the attempts made, been able to produce Bavarian beer - which is so universally valued for its advantages - which is the equal, either in terms of taste and quality, or in terms of durability, strength and price, of that from Bavaria. Many Bavarian breweries were established in Berlin and elsewhere; but they are far from doing the right thing. Every admirer knows how to distinguish genuine Bavarian beer from Berlin, so that the latter begins to fall more and more into discredit and many an entrepreneur is threatened with his downfall if he does not decide to accept those basic kegs. So it is with imitation English beers. Instead of sticking to the point, people think they can produce the same product by using all sorts of additives, to which they never resort in England, but results shows how badly they were mistaken."
"Handbuch der praktischen Bierbrauerei" by Dr. Julius Ludwig Gumbinner, 1845, pages 128 - 129.

I wonder why they couldn't get Lager right in Berlin? Was it the brewing process? The ingredients? Lagering? It's impossible to say without more details.

What were the additives used to mimic English beers? Obviously, English brewers couldn't use the. Not unless they fancied a spell in jail. I'm guessing that English beers had arrived in Berlin before those from Bavaria.

The new-fangled beer from Bavaria was, like any invasive species, already driving natives to extinction:

"It will therefore do you good to look around for the means that can help the art of brewing, which has fallen so much in northern Germany. Foreign beverages have supplanted older domestic products because they taste better and in some cases are healthier, when the price has not been taken into account. Many types have disappeared completely, others are only in very insignificant demand, and if you want to exclude Berliner Weissbier, for example, its conspicuous peculiarity assigns it an independent position, Bavarian beer has triumphed over all others. From this it is clear that one must focus on its production and in such a way that one produces a cheap domestic product for the masses of the people who, because of the high price, have until now only had to rely on imitations. Some of the material used for these imitations is just as good as in Bavaria; and it can only be due to the company and the lagering if an equally good product does not come to light."
"Handbuch der praktischen Bierbrauerei" by Dr. Julius Ludwig Gumbinner, 1845, page 132. 

Ironic that Berliner Weisse is mentioned as an exception to the slumping popularity of older styles. Given its now very tenuous existence.

Thursday, 9 June 2022


Three full cooked breakfasts and one bacon baguette. There was a good reason for the last one. We'll get to that later.

"Breakfast smells good." I remarked to Mikey in our hotel reception the first morning.

"They want 16 quid for it. I'm not paying that."

"The thieving bastards."

We already had plans that day, anyway. A morning ride up to London and breakfast in a Toby Carvery.

Mikey convinced me with: "They have bacon Yorkshire pudding."

After driving around some random bits of South London, we rolled up at the carvery.

It's a buffet breakfast. So I loaded up on the bacon. The rashers of which, as often in buffets, were often half crispy, half barely cooked. I picked carefully. The fried eggs had hardened under the lights. Another problem with buffets. You need to pounce just after a fresh lot has been put out and the yolks are still vaguely liquid. It brought back the horror of Columbian hard fried eggs.

I finished cramming my plate with mushrooms, tinned tomatoes and some potato stuff. With bacon in it. Yum. Almost forgot: I had a sausage.

I've learnt to be wary of breakfast sausages. Unless I'm in a nice hotel, I usually steer clear of them. Horrible offal and sawdust tubes of terror. Mikey said they were OK. I took a punt on one. Perfectly edible.

The bacon Yorkshire pudding was a slight disappointment. Just a standard pudding with a bit of bacon in the bottom.

We had a pint in a random pub on the way back. Some place on Shooter's Hill. I see we had a pint. I did. Mikey was driving. To make up for him not having a pint, I had a double whisky as well. That balanced things up.

Mikey had a whole breakfast schedule worked out. On Saturday, it was the turn of the Black Bull.

We've dined there many times before. Pretty reliable. I get one of their specials. Not exactly what I would have ordered, given the choice. Two slices of bacon, a sausage, a fried egg, black pudding, hash browns, baked beans and tinned tomatoes. I could have done without the beans. And have another egg.

The egg was a bit strange. But the yolk was liquid, which was the most important. The suasage was even weirder, looking like the victim of a slasher attack. It doesn't taste too bad. Obviously, the bacon is good. And evenly cooked.

The owner is a friendly chap and chats away with us.

Toby Carvery Bexley Heath
Crook Log,
DA6 8EQ.

Black Bull Cafe
49 Black Bull Rd,
CT19 5QT.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1901 Boddington Double Stout

You can’t fault Boddington for consistency. Just like their Stout was the strength of a London Porter, their Double Stout had a similar gravity to a London Single Stout.

You might have expected the Double Stout recipe to simply be a beefed-up version of their Stout, but it isn’t quite. There’s a smaller proportion of black malt. Overall, the percentage of sugar is about the same, but is distributed differently over the two types. I’ve made the same guesses for the sugars, that is, that they were No. 3 and No. 4 invert.

As with the Stout, the black malt was added to the copper rather than the mash tun. Would that extract more colour? I suspect it might. As, even assuming the one sugar was the very dark No. 4 invert, this still comes out looking a little pale.

The hops used were, once again, four types of English hops plus a few Californian. As with the Stout, there’s no indication of year they were harvested.

1901 Boddington Double Stout
pale malt 12.00 lb 84.21%
black malt 0.25 lb 1.75%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.50 lb 10.53%
No. 4 invert sugar 0.50 lb 3.51%
Cluster 135 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.25 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 1.25 oz
Fuggles dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1068
FG 1023
ABV 5.95
Apparent attenuation 66.18%
IBU 34
SRM 25
Mash at 156º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 135 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)



Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Brewing Berliner Weisse in the 1840s

The proportions of wheat and barley malt varied through time. At this point, the quantity of wheat malt was higher than usual.

There’s a fairly brief description of how Berliner Weisse was brewed in a book published in 1842.

Berliner Weisse was brewed from 5 parts wheat malt to one part barley malt. 

The malt was mashed in with water at 35º C, 35.35 litres per 55 kg of malt. Another 80 litres of boiling water were added to the mash and mixed in. 

Some of the thin mash was transferred to the kettle and brought to a boil with 0.234 kg of Altmark hops per 55 kg of malt. The hops had been soaked in water or very thin mash for 30 minutes beforehand. 

The boiled mash was returned to the mash tun, raising the temperature to 72.5º C. The mash was left to stand for 30 minutes, then pumped to the cooler.

45.8 to 57.25 litres per 66 kg of malt of boiling water were poured over the goods in the mash tun to form the second wort. This was mixed with the first wort and when, the temperature had fallen to 18.75º C, yeast was pitched. The next day the beer was already delivered to pubs. 

The author makes this interesting comment about wheat beers in general:

"all wheat beers, especially in the summer, easily turn sour and sometimes even sour during the brewing process." 

And, finally, there’s a mention of smoke. Zimmermann recommends that those still using an old-fashioned smoke kiln should use dry oak, beech or coke as fuel, as these gave off relatively little smoke. 

Monday, 6 June 2022

I drank a bottle of Newcastle Brown - and I liked it

Well, a bit. I didn't hate it, let's put it that way. Drinking it was a mildly pleasurable experience.

I'd not had it for years. Since then it's been through a few breweries. Pretty sure it was still brewed in Newcastle the last time I drank it. I didn't know what to expect at all. Malty, a bit caramelly, not too sweet. 

Why was I drinking Newcastle Brown. Because the pub we were drinking in, Harveys, had one cask option: Doom Bar. I really didn't fancy that. They used to sell Courage Best. That was OK.  But I really didn't want to waste my liver on Doom Bar. Mikey ordered a Newcastle Brown and I just followed suit.

The circumstances of its consumption probably boosted my enjoyment. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. And the Brown Ale, with the sun shining through it looked a treat. Let's just not think about all the skunking going on.

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Class divide

Last weekend I was in Folkestone with Mikey. It was at least three years since I'd last been. The longest gap, probably, ever. Well, since we started going there.

Mikey went twice every year. I'd accompany him on at least one of those trips. I became weirdly fond of the place. Perhaps because of its ordinariness. And the really good chippy.

Andrew asked on my return: "What did you do other than hang around in pubs and cafes?"

"Nothing, really. Other than a little light shopping."

It genuinely was all breakfasts and beer. And the odd whisky.

Folkestone was reassuringly unchanged. Mostly. On the way to Wetherspoons I spotted a new place opposite. In a single shop unit, it had all the signs of a micro pub. And called The Beer Shop.

"Can we have one in here first?"

"I don't mind, Ron. It's your round."

Inside it was fairly Spartan and modern. But nice enough. Glancing at the bar, it looked like all evil keg. Luckily the blackboard listed one cask beer: Burning Sky/Verdant Rumour Mill. Mikey went for a Lost Pier chocolate and hazelnut Stout, the trendy bastard.

There were plenty of beards and tattoos. And a youngish middle-class clientele. Other than me and Mikey. As so often now, I was the oldest by a few decades. Not surprising our fellow drinkers were mostly middle class, given the prices. My - very good beer, refreshing but with plenty of hop flavour - was 5.10 a pint. Mikey's was north of 6 quid.

We only had the one. Then trudged over to Spoons. Where there was a very different vibe. A generally older crowd. Or better said: a greater variation in ages. Still plenty of tattoos. But a lot more baldy heads. And rather different types of beards. Cask beer at 2.10 a pint. Less than half the price over the road.

Basically a class divide. Middle class one side of the road, working class the other. Separated by price. Where were me and Mikey? Plumb in the middle of the road.

I originally ended the post here. Well, the paragraph before here, to be precise. Then I realised, while wandering the streets just now, that I hadn't written anything about how I felt about the two pubs. Here goes.

I felt comfortable in both. It was soon obvious in the Beer Shop that I was the oldest person by several decades. They were friendly enough and didn't seem to mind my oldie presence too much.

Though The Beer Shop only had one cask beer (why would I drink keg when I'm back in the UK?), it was really excellent. An absolute pleasure. The Broadside in Spoons was OK. Perfectly drinkable, but nowt special. 

I'd have wrapped my face around several pints of Rumour Mill, but for one thing: the price. At £5.10 a pop, four or five pints could work out pricey. Especially with Mikey on something even more expensive. Sure, the Broadside over the road wasn't as nice. But not three quid less nice.And good enough.

When it comes to decor, the Spoons wins hands down. A really good conversion of a Methodist chapel which manages to be pub-like, while still obviously a former place of worship. Booths along either side break up the space and stop it seeming too cavernous.

 What chance does The Beer Shop have in competing with that? I mean, it's a shop unit. And is still a shop, too. Fair enough that it looks like a shop. Not somewhere you could imagine spending a long afternoon watching racing on the telly and working your way steadily through a gallon of Bitter, accompanied by several double whiskies.

Which do I prefer? I can't really pick one. It all depends on what I want. If I was after a good session, it would be Spoons all the way. While if I wanted a really good beer, it would be The Beer Shop.

Diversity is a features of pubs I've always loved. You don't have to like every one of them. I'm sure there are plenty who despise some of the boozers I adore the most. Each pub has its own audience. (However much you might think that they are all-welcoming.) And you can be in multiple audiences.

The Beer Shop Folkestone

32 Rendezvous St,
Folkestone CT20 1EZ.

The Samuel Peto - JD Wetherspoons
23 Rendezvous St,
Folkestone CT20 1EY.